Why is heel walking important?
The most important thing I always tell my clients is leadership. Dogs crave structure and a ‘pack leader’ to follow. A dog with a strong and calm leader is also calm, and less likely to feel fearful, stressed, anxious, territorial, etc.
Teaching your dog heel, establishes the leader/follower mentality. It allows them to keep their attention on you, which is a great mental exercise for them, and it teaches them impulse control when it comes to the many distractions of being outside. It also builds a stronger relationship between you and your dog, because they will learn to trust and respect you as their leader. This will result in less barking or lunging when they’re outside because they trust you to identify danger and they, themselves don’t need to be on edge.
One hour of heel walking is constantly stimulating their minds to not only pay attention to your body language, but also keeping the same pace and position. This is worth hours of being off leash at a dog park.